Introduction: Desk Terrarium

About: 16yr old entrepreneur and creator

Hi guys, welcome to my next instructable! I first made a terrarium in grade 3 – it was a science experiment and I loved it! And successfully killed it. Last year I visited a market in Melbourne and re-fell in love with this 1970s craze. My brother (very kindly) bought me one for a gift aaaaand, two weeks later (ish), it…died! *enter crying, lamentations etc.* I then replanted it and, guess what, a little less than a year later it is still alive! Fast forward a year or so and I decide of make one for myself.

WARNING! I did this project inside (it was freezing outside). I laid down butches’ paper to protect the bench. If you chose not to do this, I WILL NOT TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY HARM DONE TO YOU BY YOUR MOTHER/THE OWNER OF THE BENCH! In other words, do it in side at you risk.

p.s. butches’ paper is very easy to roll up (with the mess inside) and tip in the bin. Just sayn’…


- Terrarium container ($15 from Kmart)

- Cactus/succulent soil

- A plastic spoon

- Plants – how many will be determined by the size of your terrarium (there are special terrarium ones you can get from most nurseries. I used a succulent, a Fittonia Jade and a Desert Rose (adenium obesum). Go for slow growing, small plants.)

- Decorative pebbles

Step 1: Fill the Terrarium With Soil

My terrarium had a door which made filling the terrarium so much easier, but I understand this is not a feature of all terrarium so the method in which you chose to fill yours may differ from how I filled mine!

How I filled my terrarium was simply to spoon dirt into the glass container thingy. I wanted to create a downwards slope (which didn’t actually work…) and so directed more dirt up to the back of the terrarium container. I personally think that having a bit of a slope creates a feature and makes it just that bit more aesthetically pleasing but, hey, anything goes!

Step 2: Add the Plants

Heh…no progress pics of this step sorry! I got a bit to carried away (oh, yeah, my fingers were also a bit dirty but that’s part of the fun!) to remember to take any!

Pretty much you just use the spoon to create an indent in the soil then you massage the bottom of the plant container until you can remove it from the container without harming the root system or the top foliage.

Release the roots from their square (or round) shape – most plants have probably lived in that contain for who knows how long and most likely will have taken the space of it.

Sit the plant in the indent then spoon more soil over top to cover the roots…but not the green foliage on top!

Dust off any dirt on the plants with the paint brush (credit to jessyratfink!)

Step 3: Theeen Add the Rocks!

*see step 2 for the reason behind the lack of photos!

Place the decorative rocks around the plants – try to cover up as much of the soil as possible. These rocks serve a dual purpose, not only do they look nice, but they stop the terrarium from drying out too fast! Win – win!

Step 4: Finished!

HORRAY! You have completed your terrarium (with hardly any photos to guide you sorry…). Now put it out there for the world to see! Let your work colleagues drool over it! Let your students be *fascinated* by it! Let your siblings/parents/partner/nieces/nephews/grandparents/great grandparents/uncles/aunties/cousins/friends/whoevers be completely GREEN WITH JEALOUSY!

Step 5: Maintenance

Ok. This is a tricky one. Why? Because every single terrarium is different!

I don’t know what type of plants you are adding. My terrarium has plants that do not require much watering BUT another terrarium I am making has plants that need lots of watering.

I don’t know what kind of climate you are living in. I am living in a part of Australia where the climate is quite dry and warm therefore, I must water my plants more often. You may be living somewhere cooler and wetter meaning you water your terrarium less often.

I would consult whoever you buy the plants off – or someone at your local nursery – about how often to water your terrarium. When you do water it though, I would pour the water (not mist) directly at the soil/roots! This is simply because I have misted my succulents/terrariums in the past and THEY ALL DIED! Without fail! I really hope this is not incorrect advice but rather what worked for me – I would be interested in hearing your opinion/experience.

If a plants/leaf dies remove it – disease can spread quickly in a terrarium. Plus, it looks messy.

Happy planting!